Confronting the bar exam again is difficult. You may be feeling overwhelmed with thoughts of failure and second-guessing whether passing is possible for you. Know you are in good company. During each bar exam administration, re-takers from all walks of life sit for the exam again, and they do pass.
If you are a re-taker and courageously going at it again, here are some tips to get you on the right track so you can make this your final round:
Reflecting on the exam outcome in your previous attempt is critical to determine how you can improve this time. Consider some of the following questions to help you figure out areas for improvement:
Did you take exam portions under timed and testing conditions?
It can be easy to avoid the stress of actual testing conditions such as strictly allocating the time to take an exam portion, not leaving for extra breaks, or pausing the timer for a phone call or snacks. As nerve racking as it may seem practice as if it you are taking the real thing—the more you face simulated exam conditions, the more comfortable you will feel over time. Preparation, practice, and repetition can prepare you to launch into action on test day.
Did you review your both correct and incorrect answers?
- MEE: If you are reviewing an essay, it is invaluable to compare your response to the sample answer and note the issues you flagged correctly or incorrectly. You can keep track of this on an excel sheet, or in some other way so that review can be systematic, and you can review your progress over time.
- MBE: Taking MBE timed questions is a commitment of your time. It is even more time-consuming to review the answers. However, these tasks go hand in hand and are equally critical for your practice. Are you reviewing the answer summaries to understand why you did not answer it correctly? Importantly, even if you did answer the question correctly, was it for the right reason? You may even find it helpful to incorporate the answer explanations into your outline, and the question itself as an illustrative example of the respective issue(s) being tested.
- MPT: Did you review how your MPT outline, and response compared to the model answer? If there were differences, what aspects were different? Do you notice any patterns that need improvement such as structure or tone that the assignment seeks?
Along these same lines, check with your jurisdiction if you can obtain and review copies of your previous exam answers.
Do you have a mentor?
Whether it is a professor or a network of support, or even a book, such support and guidance can really go a long way. One way you can bounce back is with support, so be sure to check out this podcast discussing guidance on what to do if you failed.
Revise the plan
After reflecting on what has and has not worked for you, it is time to revise the plan. Specifically, ensure you are cutting out any time-consuming and non-beneficial tasks so that you can focus on working efficiently. For example, if you just need a review and to drill down on the timing, then focus on that. If you need to work on your memorization, be sure to prioritize this before you dive into questions. You may want to begin your day with drilling rules and ensuring you have these down cold, and then test your understanding of the rule’s application to complex, real, licensed MBE questions.
Most importantly, once you have adjusted your plan be sure to stick to the new plan.
Trust that you have the foundation and experience under your belt to approach the exam differently and wiser this time around. For example, did you place more emphasis on certain aspects of the exam than others such as focusing mainly on MBEs and not MEEs? You have feedback that can guide you this time.
Focusing on the advantage you have over your first experience can give you the confidence you need. The advantage you have over your first test-taking experiences include:
- you have experienced the exam and know what it entails and requires
- you know what to expect in the days approaching and on test-day
- you won’t make the same mistakes again because you have reflected on your missteps and have committed to a new approach
Time is on your side
You still have time to create the outcome you hope to see. In fact, you may have even saved some time because you have already prepared, but just need to make some adjustments.
Remember that a previous exam setback does not determine whether you pass this time – that is in your control. You get to determine whether you achieve success on the next exam depending on the efforts you take daily and how you make the days ahead truly count.
As you know, the bar covers numerous topics which require you to quickly remember elements from question to question. You need a relaxed and clear mind to absorb the rules and know them “cold.” Be mindful of any anxiety creeping in and take steps to de-stress as this can affect your automatic rule recall. Additionally, ensure you are getting enough sleep, taking in a balanced and nutritious diet, and exercising.
You have what it takes to conquer the exam!
Ready to pass the bar exam? Get the support and accountability you need with personalized one-on-one bar exam tutoring or one of our economical courses and workshops. We're here to help!
Leave a Reply